Little Brother: Love, Tragedy, and My Search for the Truth

Hachette. May 2022. 288p. ISBN 9780306923173. $39. MEMOIR
Westoff’s (Fentanyl, Inc.) most personal book yet explores the multilayered communal aspects of grief, justice, and loss as he investigates the murder of Jorell Cleveland. Westoff was Cleveland’s “big brother” as part of the Big Brother, Big Sisters program. Westhoff’s quest to solve the murder reveals complicated layers of his little brother’s life he knew little about. Employing his journalistic skills and connections to solve the crime, the author exposes the failures of the justice system when it comes to young Black men. The narrative struggles at times with Westoff’s inability to decenter himself from Cleveland’s lived experience. Hearing more about Cleveland through the lens of his father and siblings would give a better picture of who he was beyond his death and his life in Westhoff’s world. Westhoff argues strengthening gun laws and creating a universal income would address some core issues that helped create Cleveland’s situation. Cleveland’s story is an all-too-common tragedy, and Westhoff personal relationship and journalistic talent ensures his little brother is remembered as more than a statistic.
VERDICT A heartfelt account of a life cut short, and the jarring inequities that contributed to the tragedy.
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